As a researcher and author, John provides information in an easy-to-understand way that helps readers understand their condition.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
It is estimated that 1 in 3 people have high blood pressure (hypertension)—and many of them are unaware that they have it because it does not always have recognisable symptoms. This, coupled with the fact that it can lead to sometimes fatal outcomes, is why it is often referred to as the 'silent killer'.
Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of our arteries as it gets pumped by the heart around our body.
As we get on with our daily routines it's natural that this pressure rises as we walk, do work, get excited, become stressed and so on. But it will then reduce back down to a healthy level as we rest and cease exerting ourselves.
However, if the pressure remains at consistently high levels, even when at rest, this is the condition we call 'high blood pressure' or 'hypertension'.
The problem with this is that the heart has to work much harder, which can lead to organ damage and other serious health issues such as:
- heart attack
- heart failure
- irregular heartbeat
- kidney damage
- accelerated hardening of the arteries
- sight impairment
So you can clearly see why, if you have high BP, it's vital to reduce it to a healthy level and maintain it there.
Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is diagnosed by a medical professional who measures your blood pressure as shown in the video opposite. Two distinct pressures are recorded:
- Systolic (arterial pressure when the heart is contracted to pump the blood)
- Diastolic (arterial pressure when the heart is relaxed to fill with blood ready for the next contraction)
It is usually written in the form 'systolic reading/diastolic reading', for example 140/80, and spoken as 'one hundred and forty over eighty.' The readings are in mm Hg (millimetres of mercury).
The following table shows the different categories of hypertension with their associated systolic and diastolic ranges.
120 to 139
80 to 89
140 to 159
90 to 99
Stage 1 Hypertension
Stage 2 Hypertension
Check Your BP Regularly at Home
When diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor will wish to monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis; the frequency will be determined based on the severity of your case.
But you can also monitor progress at home, in between visits to the clinic, using a monitor you can purchase from the pharmacy or online. Many folks do this because it gives them a greater sense of security.
If you do it at home your doctor will advise how often you need to check your levels. You will need to keep a record of the readings to show to your physician on your next visit.
And for folks who suffer from 'white coat syndrome' (where your blood pressure rises inexplicably when the doctor or nurse takes the test so it's difficult to get true readings) a home testing kit is particularly useful.
Symptoms of Hypertension
Someone with high blood pressure won't necessarily know they have it because there aren't any symptoms particularly visible. But they may suffer from things such as:
- blurred vision
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
Causes and Risk Factors
About 90%–95% of the time the actual cause of hypertension cannot be identified. This type of high BP is called 'essential' or 'primary' hypertension. But, although the actual cause cannot be identified, there are well known risk factors. These are issues such as:
- high insulin levels (insulin resistance)
- being overweight
- lack of exercise/sedentary lifestyle
- too much salt (sodium)
- too much alcohol
- age (due to hardening of the arteries)
- gender (men are more likely to suffer than women)
- race (e.g. African Americans are more prone to hypertension than Caucasians)
- family history of the condition
'Secondary' hypertension is the name given to high blood pressure where the cause can be identified. Typical of these are:
- kidney disease
- oral contraceptives
- drugs (e.g., diet pills, amphetamines, etc.)
Lowering Blood Pressure Traditionally
Once hypertension has been diagnosed by a doctor the normal course of action is to prescribe drugs to help lower the blood pressure to healthier levels and to try to maintain that.
Typical medications are:
- ACE Inhibitors
- Angiotensin receptor blockers
- Calcium-channel blockers
Doctors will often prescribe more than one of these depending on the individual and may have to experiment with different ones to find the one or combination that suits the case.
But although these can be very effective in lowering high blood pressure they cannot address the underlying issues and risk factors such as obesity, poor diet, and so on.
This is why doctors will usually advise patients to take natural measures, such as dietary and lifestyle changes, alongside medication; with the objective to eventually control blood pressure totally naturally without medication.
Reducing Severely High BP
Although this article is all about lowering high blood pressure naturally without medication, there is a level at which medication is absolutely essential and that is when the patient has systolic levels higher than 180 and/or diastolic levels greater than 120.
The reason for this is that when a patient has severely high levels then they are at their highest risk of stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, swelling of the brain, and so on.
These are very serious life-threatening complications so that blood pressure needs to be reduced in a short time frame; hours or days. The best way to do this is through the use of medication under the supervision of a medical professional.
3 Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medication
We can help to alleviate many of the risk factors for hypertension simply through exercise, dietary adjustments and stress relief.
One of the most effective ways of reducing high insulin levels and so lowering blood pressure is through exercise:
- aerobic (e.g. running, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.)
- anaerobic (e.g. weights, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.)
In addition, exercising helps to reduce weight and to relieve stress thus contributing even more to decreasing blood pressure. This is why exercise is one of the most potent weapons against hypertension.
You should ideally exercise for around 1/2 hour to 1 hour per day, but if you've been leading a sedentary lifestyle you'll need to work up to that. But remember, some exercise is better than none at all.
Avoid Sugar. Avoid foods high in sugar that can raise insulin levels leading to increased blood pressure:
- all types of sugar
- fizzy drinks/soft drinks
- foods containing sugar (read the labels - you'll be surprised!)
- carbohydrates (breakdown into sugar) e.g., grains, legumes, bread, pastas, rice, cereal, potatoes, and so on. This includes whole and organic foods of this type, they're still carbohydrates.
Reduce Salt (Sodium) Intake. Our bodies need sodium to function properly but our diet nowadays has far too much sodium, which can raise blood pressure.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average adult American consumes 3,436 mg of salt.
But according to the '2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans' published by the United States Dept. Of Agriculture, the recommended maximum daily consumption is 2,300 mg per day, with the recommended upper limit of sodium for people with hypertension set at 1,500 mg per day.
Most of the salt we consume doesn't come from the salt cellar but rather from the food we eat. So as well as reducing the use of the salt cellar, lower your intake of foods such as:
- processed foods
- canned foods
Make sure to always read the label for the sodium content of any foodstuff you buy and try not to go over your upper limit of 1,500 mg per day if you suffer from hypertension.
Rebalance Your Omega 6/Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids Ratio. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 1:1, whereas in Western diet today it can be as much as 25:1.
It is clear the Western diet is deficient in Omega 3 and excessive in Omega 6. This is important because Omega 3 helps to lower insulin resistance whilst most Omega 6 fats elevate it.
You need to get the ratio much lower by eating more Omega 3 foods such as:
- fish (particularly anchovies, salmon, halibut, cod)
- Brussels sprouts
- pecan nuts
- flax seeds
- leafy green vegetables
- Omega 3 supplements (e.g. high quality fish oil)
And consuming less Omega 6 as found in:
- polyunsaturated vegetable oils (e.g. safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, corn, etc.)
- processed foods
- fast foods
Eat Foods Rich in Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. These minerals are important to our health. In terms of high blood pressure they are able to 'relax' the blood vessels and so help to reduce blood pressure. Typical foods which contain one or more of these minerals are:
- flax/sesame seeds
- cocoa powder/dark chocolate
- brazil nuts
- green leafy vegetables
3. Reduce Stress
You definitely should try to relieve stress as this can exacerbate hypertension. There are numerous ways to reduce the stress in your life, such as:
- slow, rhythmical, deep breathing exercises
- massage/self massage
- daily exercise
- plenty of rest
- take time out to listen to relaxing music
- better time management
- de-clutter your house
- avoid coffee drink chamomile tea instead
- walks on the beach or in the countryside taking in your surroundings
Apart from helping to relieve high blood pressure, relieving stress can have a positive impact on your immune system functioning, so don't underestimate the power of lowering the stress in your life.
Dr. Berglund on Hypertension
Take Control of Your Health
Hypertension is a condition that many of us have and is something that shouldn't be taken lightly. You'll probably only discover that you have high blood pressure when your doctor checks your pressure routinely in the clinic.
If you're then diagnosed with hypertension you should work together with them to get your pressure back under control.
Depending on your case, they may advise diet and exercise only at first to see if that's sufficient. If it isn't then a combination of medication and these natural approaches may be called for.
The ultimate objective should be to maintain healthy blood pressure with dietary and lifestyle changes alone, without drugs.
I have detailed three natural ways to lower blood pressure fast that can be used without medication—but also alongside medication.
I hope you have found this useful, but remember never, repeat never, stop taking your medicine without your doctor's consent.
- High blood pressure (hypertension) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
Learn about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of a condition in which the force of blood against artery walls is too high (hypertension).
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Health Center - WebMD
High blood pressure affects I in 4 American adults. Find in-depth high blood pressure and hypertension information including its causes, symptoms, and treatments.
- Hypertension - Wikipedia
- High blood pressure (hypertension) - NHS
Find everything you need to know about high blood pressure (hypertension), including causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, with links to other useful resources.
- High blood pressure: Causes, symptoms, and treatment
Many people refer to high blood pressure, or hypertension, as the silent killer because it often has no symptoms. In this article, learn about the signs and symptoms of hypertension and its causes, including health, genetic, and lifestyle risk factor
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Information | cdc.gov
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common but dangerous condition. Get information about high blood pressure from the CDC.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 JCielo
Too much salt and not enough exercises will keep your blood high... on November 03, 2015:
Too much salt and not enough exercises will keep your blood pressure high!
Rosemary Cole from Cape Town, South Africa on May 22, 2013:
Thank You, I was looking for my Dad on how to lower his blood pressure if it gets too high. Very helpful.
JCielo (author) from England on September 21, 2012:
tobint44 - Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. I'm so glad that my article got you to re-examine your lifestyle choices. Good luck!
Tyler Tobin from North Carolina on September 20, 2012:
Great Hub! I recently had some higher than normal blood pressure. I have been looking for "no medicine" solutions. This hub provides great information and really forced me to examine my health lifestyle choices (love sweets.) Voted up!
JCielo (author) from England on September 12, 2012:
Vinaya, I sincerely hope your father can find something here to help him control his hypertension. Thanks for leaving your comment.
Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on September 12, 2012:
My father is suffering from high blood pressure and he is always looking for natural remedies. Thanks for sharing this useful and informative article.
JCielo (author) from England on September 05, 2012:
Rajan, I always eagerly await your comments when I publish a hub. Thanks once again and for the link.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 04, 2012:
John, this is a very well laid out and detailed hub on tackling high blood pressure. The best I've read so far on this topic. I'm including a link to this hub in my hub on high blood pressure. I hope you don't mind.
Voted this hub up and across. Sharing it.
JCielo (author) from England on September 04, 2012:
@bac2basics - Hope there were some tips here that you can work with your doctor on. Thanks for stopping by.
@ignugent17 - Thanks for taking the time to read my article and leaving your comment.
@pharmacist2013 - Yes natural is always the preferred way to go. Good to see you here.
pharmacist2013 on September 03, 2012:
An interesting hub, The best thing about it is being natural!voted interesting.
ignugent17 on August 31, 2012:
Very interesting and useful. Your tips are really beneficial to all those with or withour high blood pressure. Voted up and more!
Anne from Spain on August 31, 2012:
Hi Jcielo. I have high blood pressure and a family history of stroke and heart problems. So many times you just get put on pills and med´s with no, or little advice from the doctor giving you your prescription.
I am going to copy and share this hub, as it´s very well written and very informative too. I am sure it will benefit so many people. Thanks so much. Voted up etc. :)
JCielo (author) from England on August 31, 2012:
@mperrottet...Thanks so much for taking the time to read my hub and for sharing your own experience with lowering and controlling your blood pressure naturally.
Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on August 31, 2012:
These are excellent tips on reducing blood pressure naturally. I think that often times people could avoid taking blood pressure pills if they would follow these simple steps. High blood pressure is in my family, and mine was creeping up 8 years ago. I increased my exercised, watched my diet, and continued to do yoga every day. So far, I have been able to control it without any medication. Voted up and useful.